Several things have happened in the last few days that have driven home the fact that summer is well and truly over and that autumn is here. First, Halloween decorations are beginning to crop up on doorsteps across Eugene. Those of you that know me are probably expecting a rant about decorating too early, but in fact seeing all a bunch of paper ghosts and plastic pumpkins has galvanized me into thinking about what my costume for the annual Halloween party should be. I've been jotting down ideas as they came to me over the course of the year, but they're generally uninspired (my favorites so far are an evil version of Jimmy Stewart or one of two old Saturday Night Live characters - The Continental and Dieter from Sprockets). Of course, October doesn't just mean dressing up like an idiot and - in my case - listening to soundtracks from old horror movies: it also means that the baseball playoffs are here. Like all Mariners fans, I'm disappointed that the season ended in mediocrity rather than in celebration as seemed likely a month or two ago. Still, that's almost made up for by the fantastic last week of the regular season, particularly in the National League. Regardless of the result of tomorrow's San Diego/Colorado tiebreaker, a full half of the teams in the playoffs will be small-market, low-payroll teams built from the ground up. That is to say, for once the playoffs will showcase baseball the way it's meant to be played. Needless to say, I'm very excited.
Of course, nothing really announces the coming of autumn like a change in the weather. In much of the world, this is the time of year when people head to the countryside to see botanical fireworks. However, this is the Northwest, so instead of a change in foliage, late September is marked by the onset of the rainy(er) season. Like anyone born and raised here, there's little I love more than the look on newcomers' faces when you tell them it will be gray and rainy pretty much every day between now and March (serves them right for moving here; we told then not to, after all). Even if that is a bit of an exaggeration, after a summer split between Southern California and the Eastern Oregon desert, falling asleep to the rhythm of raindrops on the roof and waking up to see the hills around town shrouded in mist feels very much like being reunited with an old friend. While many people I know fall into a grim depression at the first sight of gray skies, I find it marvelously exhilarating. It's good to be home, and it's great to be welcoming in another Northwest fall.